Wednesday, November 08, 2017

English and Christian missions in 19th century Bulgaria

The American school for girls in Stara Zagora
 First protestant missionaries came to Bulgaria in the early 19th century. Later, in 1860, they founded one of the first American schools oversees in the town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. They taught Algebra, Anatomy, Philosophy, Chemistry, Astronomy, Physics, Geography, Music, etc. The missionaries translated textbooks in those subjects in Bulgarian but English was also one of the subjects to be taught. This was the first school furnished with all the teaching utilities needed which were imported from America.

Elias Riggs, one of the
first misisonaries in Bulgaria.
Later schools were founded also for girls in Stara Zagora and Lovech. All these schools gave high quality education to hundreds of Bulgarian children and through the modern methods of education it helped for the overall reformation of the other Bulgarian schools. Through the contact with American culture, science and literature, the schools were instrumental in forming a new, Biblical worldview in their pupils.

A graduate from the school in Lovech shared with me that she studied there for just one year before the communists closed down the school in 1948. Yet, the time spent at the American school transformed radically her worldview and attitude to the world. Since the teachers were actually Protestant missionaries, she was greatly impressed by the way they treated the students. Although they didn’t teach directly the Bible, she became a Christian through their witness and behavior. English language became synonymous to her for Christianity!